The Writing Center @ The University of Wisconsin - Madison
The Writer's Handbook
Developing a Thesis Statement

Complete the final thesis statement

The Bottom Line

As you move through the process of crafting a thesis, you'll need to remember four things:

  1. Context matters! Think about your course materials and lectures. Try to relate your thesis to the ideas your instructor is discussing.
  2. As you go through the process described in this section, always keep your assignment in mind. You will be more successful when your thesis (and paper) responds to the assignment than if it argues a semi-related idea.
  3. Your thesis statement should be precise, focused, and contestable; it should predict the sub-theses or blocks of information that you will use to prove your argument.
  4. Make sure that you keep the rest of your paper in mind at all times. Change your thesis as your paper evolves, because you do not want your thesis to promise more than your paper actually delivers.

In the beginning, the thesis statement was a tool to help you sharpen your focus, limit material and establish the paper's purpose. When your paper is finished, however, the thesis statement becomes a tool for your reader. It tells the reader what you have learned about your topic and what evidence led you to your conclusion. It keeps the reader on track--well able to understand and appreciate your argument.